For a Change: More for Filipinos


Lately I've been spending some time looking for tips for Filipinos that would like to work and/or study study abroad. Despite or mainly because of the global recession, many Filipinos are currently actively looking for greener pastures. Well, I could no longer consider people from third world countries seeking exodus from the Philippines as really hoping to find greener pastures because at point, even great countries such as United Kingdom, United States and the like are experiencing economic depression (well, not as much as we do though). So the idea hit me as I've been reading really great tips once you stumble upon the right articles, blogs and forums), I decided to put them together as to help other people who are looking for the very tips that are tailor-fit to their situations. Let's start with my current status.

Like most Filipinos that are hungry for better opportunities, I was born and raised far from being well-off. I finished 2-Year Computer Programming, landed a job in a call center and yeah, the bread winner of the family (with that I mean I'm my mom's sole provider as my father died when I was in my second year in high school). I don't want to bore you with my life so let's get started to the very reason why you came here. We all want changes, we all want to improve the quality of our lives. I would like to dedicate this blog for all the Filipinos that love our country, love our family and for those who would like to look for opportunities abroad (that means United States and Australia--just narrowing it down so you won't expect too much from this blog).

Last month I've been getting nanny/au pair opportunity offers. It turns out though that I caught the Immigration system's most terrible timing so I had to drop that idea. AuPair Philippines, the partner organization of GoAuPair, which sends young Filipinos to the United States through the au pair program hasn't send any new Filipinos yet. So that's a bad sign right there. Nannies couldn't get a working visa as it's not considered in the Skilled Workers category. Au pair or J-1 visa for Filipinos is next to impossible (at least at this time) as many au pair in the past have abused such a rare opportunity and overstayed or TNT (tago ng tago). So it leave us to getting a tourist visa in the options. Well, not really, since working as an au pair on a tourist visa is ILLEGAL (I wouldn't recommend it, but if you're really serious about going to the land of opportunities, it used to be, then it's your last bet). Now, you have to figure out how to obtain a tourist visa because again, that is difficult to obtain. It may be the type of visa that has the fastest processing yet the highest denial rate. I am not trying to discourage you here but I am just being realistic. I always thought that if you have the money for the fare then you could easily go but heck no, you have to go through the scrutiny of the Embassy and prove that you have strong ties in our home country.
So what constitutes strong ties? Here's a complete list from the Embassy of the United States in Manila.

Demonstrating Ties in Your Home Country So You Can be Approved for a Tourist Visa

OVERCOMING PRESUMPTION OF IMMIGRANT INTENT UNDER U.S. IMMIGRATION AND NATIONALITY ACT SECTION 214(b)

All B-1, B-2, F-1, F-2, H-2A, H-2B, H-3, J-1, J-2, M-1, M-2, O-2, P-1, P-2, P-3, and Q-1, applicants must qualify under Section 214(b) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The Act which states:

"Every alien shall be presumed to be an immigrant until he establishes to the satisfaction of the officer, at the time of the application for a visa... that he is entitled to nonimmigrant status..."

Essentially, the visa officer needs to see that the applicant has compelling reasons to return to the Philippines. By law, the burden of proof is on the applicant to show that he or she qualifies for the visa. This proof may come in many forms, but when considered together, it must be strong enough for the interviewing officer to conclude that the applicant’s ties to the Philippines will compel him or her to return at the end of a temporary stay in the United States.

EVIDENCE OF TIES

Ties are the aspects of one’s life that bind him or her to his or her place of residence, including family relationships, employment and possessions. In the case of younger applicants, who may not have had an opportunity to establish such ties, interviewing officers may look at educational status, grades, the situation of their parents, and the applicant's long-range plans and prospects in the Philippines. As each person's situation is different, there is no set answer as to what constitutes adequate ties.

The following supporting documents may or may not be requested from the applicant and are only required at the discretion of the consular officer:

1.Bank statements for the last three (3) months and both current and former bank account passbooks.

2.Employment certification including salary, tenure and position

3.Form W-2

4.Income tax return with Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) or bank stamp

5.Audited financial statement with BIR or bank stamp

6.Pay slips for the last three (3) months

7.Credit card statements for the prior three months

8.Vehicle registration with official receipt

9.Land titles (no certified copies please)

10.Pictures of family, home or business

11.Wedding photos

12.Marriage certificate printed on the Philippine National Statistics Office security paper, if applicable

13.Birth certificate printed on the Philippine National Statistics Office security paper

14.For students, certificate of school registration

15.Certification of membership to legitimate organization(s)

Due to the large volume of applications processed each day, consular officers may not always look at supporting documents, unless there are points in the application forms or in the interview that need clarification.

Notes:

In certain cases, additional documents may be requested.

All documents must be originals. Photocopies will not be accepted, unless specified. The applicant must submit these documents to the interviewing consular officer during the interview. The Nonimmigrant Visa Unit does not accept documents before the interview. Any documents received will not be returned and will be destroyed. Please note, however, that presentation of the documents will not guarantee visa issuance. Applicants must still qualify under INA Section 214(b).

There you have, you have to prove that you have really strong ties not only financially but also socially and politically. Most Filipinos that might have not established this yet especially those who are single or who have just finished college and single, you would have greater chances of being denied. Let's face it, we are considered "high risk" because we don't have much assets in our country and considered to look for a job once we get there. So yeah, even if we're genuine mere visitors, we would still be considered intending immigrants until proven otherwise.

In one of the threads that I've read, here's a really helpful tip that I got. So this guy has just finished college and no assets at all. What he did was he took an entrance examination in a law school here in the Philippines so that when asked if he's going back here in the Philippines, he showed the admission letter from the said school and that he will be pursuing his studies here. Guess what, his visa application was approved! There are many loopholes in their system so if you're really serious about going, you could still get around. ;)

Though there's not really a magic strategy on how to pass the interview or assurance on getting a tourist visa, here are just some of the tips that you might find helpful.

1. Visit Asian countries
To prove that you're really capable of financing yourself, your passport must have been stamped with several travels to various countries. This will give them an impression that you're applying for tourist for the very reason of leisure and not to look for a job. This, though, will not give you an assurance because they look at every applicant's specific situation. So yours might be different from those who have just been granted. Asian countries do not require visa if you plan to stay there for 14 to 30 days. Be sure not to overstay as this will forfeit the very purpose that you went there, to prove that you are a genuine visitor.

If you haven't visited any neighboring countries yet, it would get the consul suspicious as to why United States right away. One friend answered, "Well to be honest I got the chances to visit Asian countries but I'm not just interested". This may not work always but he was right, you're simply not interested with Asia, haha.

2. Acquire Assets
If you have business here in the Philippines and considerable number of assets, it would help in convincing them that you will indeed return at expiry of your visa. Again, it varies. Some people get denied because their businesses weren't established enough. So you see, even if you have a lot of assets, it's still not an assurance though it will improve your chances.

3. Get a Job Offer, Acceptance Letter
If you're currently unemployed, you should have at least a job offer entailing the benefits, the compensation package and the likes because it will give them a feeling that you have a bright future here in the Philippines and will not be tempted to look for a job there instead. Just like what I've mentioned, you can opt to apply to schools for further studies or higher education. You need not apply to prestigious universities but at least those that are recognized by CHED.

Those are just some things that you can do. Again, the approval of your application still varies on your circumstances and there's no guarantee that you will get approve. These are just tips that you can increase your chances.

So here are the necessary documents that you need to prepare when applying:

You should prepare the following:

1. Employer certification
2. Bank certification, passbook
3. Birth certificate
4. Property titles if any
5. Organization certificates
6. Pictures of your friends and relatives in the US
7. Others documents pertinent to you and your family

But the most important thing is that you prepared and fill-up forms DS 156 and 157 correctly and of course you will be able to project yourself calmly and answers the questions convincingly and honestly. Goodluck!

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